Monday, January 4, 2010

The R in Regift

Touchy subject isn't it? Nobody likes a debate more than me but even I have been avoiding the R word for way too long. It is the first subject on my Blog Post list for 2010 and I figure the worse you can do if you don't like what I am saying regift me with your most tacky gift? The post-holiday timing couldn't be better, everyone has something left that makes you ask yourself............what do I do with this? Not everyone does it, certainly very few admit to it, but everyone knows the R word. Let's just talk about it once and for all.

Regift Style 1
There are two types of regifting, the first type being the one we are all most familiar with, you simply do not like the gift. You don't like the style, the colour, the subliminal message you see lurking behind it, it's obvious regift vibe, whatever, but you know somehow you need to get rid of it. This is where regifting gets it's bad this point you are actually considering it as a gift choice for someone else! A gift you actually don't like, don't want, don't want to see ever again. There is some kind of karma attached to passing along a unwanted gift, I swear people can tell when it is given in that kind of spirit. Then again, it might be the slightly guilty look on your face.

Regift Style 2
There is a second type of regifting, something that can be so tempting to do. Quite simply, you are looking to borrow someone else's exquisite taste. It's last-minute, you need an impressive gift to impress somebody and there it is right there in your grateful hands and It's absolutely gorgeous, that person always gives you the most tasteful gifts and you want to leave it gift wrapped too. Too easy isn't it? Your ego is getting in the way here, so much so that you are willing to deprive yourself. Let's be real here, regifting is basically a selfish act, one where you grab someone else's time and money and pass it off as your own effort. I can't make it pretty for you.

So why do it?
We do it because it is going to save us time or money, we secretly dislike the person, it's an obligatory gift, we are overwhelmed, we are out of gift-buying time, we need a reciprocal gift quick, we can't stand waste, the credit card is maxed out, maybe we are bad people? Let's face it , there are a million reasons it makes sense at the time, and only two to stop ourselves before all is said and done.

How are they going to feel if they find out you regifted their gift?

How are you going to feel if they find out you gave them a regifted gift?

So the question should always be when bad will I feel if this person finds out and does it matter to me? Think about it, if the answer is that it doesn't matter then maybe you shouldn't be exchanging gifts with this person in the first place. I am not saying regifting is the worse thing you can do or that it makes you a bad person. I am saying there is a probable and possible cost related to it and that isn't going to change no matter how we try to justify it. The probable and possible is forget you have regifted (which gives you a blank look when the recipient brings up your gift) or you can't forget about your shameful secret (which gives you that guilty look every time that person even says the word gift). Both are dead giveaways.

The Regift Rules

Do not regift an item you hate. If you consider it ugly as sin or just plain junk, treat it as such and throw itout. Junk is junk and no amount of new gift wrapping is going to hide that fact.

Do not regift because you hate waste and then attempt to tell yourself you are being noble and working toward a greater good for the eco-world at large. If you can't use it, give it away to a worthwhile charity. That is way more noble than regifting.

Do not regift in it's original wrapped version. At least rewrap it for heavens sake. I was once at a party where the hostess was given a bottle of wine and an old gift tag was inside the bottle bag. None of us have looked at this couple the same way again to say nothing about how it made the hard-working hostess feel that lovely evening. Obviously offended, she told us about it.

Do not regift or dispose of anything that has sentimental value to the person who gave it to you. If your great-aunt gives you her treasured vintage tablecloth and she can't see the stains, take it gratefully and then store it somewhere. You will get good karma points for being gracious and your mother will be exceptionally proud of you. Effusive thanks are part of the deal. Someday you might be doing the same.

Do not regift anything original. The lopsided pottery mug your friend made? The handknit scarf in all the wrong colours? If there is one thing we should all know, when someone expresses their creativity, the offense of regifting goes way up on the sensitivity scale. When it is handmade, it not just a gift, it is now a piece of their artistic soul and you should know how artists can be when it comes to that. Doesn't matter if you don't like it, doesn't matter if she made 200 of them for her closest friends, hold on to it and do not regift........ ever.

Do not think you can save it for your next garage sale. Garage sales are visited by bargain hunters and then your friends and family who stop in for moral support. Do you see what can happen here? And yes they will remember that they gave you that planter two years ago.

Do keep track of who gave you what gift. This prevents you from the obvious, bringing your secretary's gift to the office regift party. If you are going to regift, do so responsibly and kindly. This is the ultimate regift rule.

Do regift in an upfront manner. If you were given a pricey bottle of perfume that makes you sneeze then bring it along to the office or your next bookclub and ask who would enjoy a lovely gift that day. Than hand it over graciously. This is more sharing than regifting but you know what I mean.

Do keep a tasteful supply of gifts on hand for last minute repicorcal gift-giving. I order and wrap in advance an extra supply of my signature gift for every season. I always make sure my signature gift is in a style that can be given any time of year. This eliminates the need or desire to hunt through regift possibilities and potentially lose your normal good sense.

Do have a regift date at home or work. Set a date with like-minded people then bring it all in and let everyone take a pick. This does not include the junk, remember that has already gone in the garbage.

Do organize a regift day for your church or organization, attach a nominal price just like you would with a garage sale and then donate the funds.

Do regift anonymously. Wrap up the regift items and start dropping them off at doorsteps as a little treat. Only for the good stuff, nice body lotion, bath salts, gourmet tea, something that truly would make anyone's day a little bit nicer. Attach a little handwritten card saying " A special regift just for you. Enjoy or pass it along". No name needed and done in the right spirit it really is good gift karma.

Do eliminate the need to regift. Be a big girl and just tell them their gift needs to be returned or exchanged. No one expects their gift choices to be perfect every time and most would appreciate the opportunity to make the gift more perfect. Better to request than regift.

Do edit your gift giving list. If you are annually exchanging gifts with people who never get it right and never will, then maybe there is a better way. Sometimes the gifting has just gotten out of hand and you are expected to give to co-workers or relatives you really don't know very well. Be the clever one and suggest a better way for the whole group. Have everyone bring books (wine, cologne, or gift cards) and then let everyone exchange to their heart's content.

Do acknowledge some people in your life are never going to have good gift giving taste. Their gift choice is always going to disappoint you and there is nothing you can do about it (you need a few of these to appreciate the really good ones). Do not let this challenge make you revert to petty behavior and compromise your own tasteful gift giving. Be the one that still puts thought and beauty into your reciprocal gift. Not everyone has good taste, but they may have the best sense of humour and that is why you are friends. And they probably love your great taste and style.

Do know that you may get busted so be ready with your explanation. Let me know how that goes for you.

Now, if someone just happened to regift me with this Hermes bag I found over at the beauty blog Beautiful Things to Share .............ignore my above post. My loss of street cred would totally be worth it.

Photo 1, 2, and 4 via Flickr/3rd photo from Carolyne Roehm/5th photo from the blog Beautiful Things to Share


  1. Sande,
    You captured the essence of the regifting dilemna beautifully. I've hosted a few regifting parties and had lots of laughs. Otherwise, I generally donate such items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I like your tip of having a signature gift on hand. Too often I am scrambling at the last minute for that perfect hostess gift.... Maybe you could write a post on that?

  2. I often get gifts that are just not for me - but I will regift them to someone I know will love them! If it is junk I just throw it out - like one of the gifts I got for xmas this year!

  3. I don't think that I have ever regifted. I don't think that I could live with myself, Sande !!
    You have come up with some great ideas for solving this dilema. I particually love the one where you just leave it on someones step and say 'enjoy or pass it on'. What a brilliant idea.
    Thanks for the great advice. XXXX

  4. I like the list of rules you posted to abide by. "Do not regift with the same wrapping" is key!

  5. Sande,

    This post is so well-written and very thoughtful. I totally agree with your dos and donts. I have a friend whom I have always suspected to be a regifter. For our wedding gift she gave us a tuperware sleeve for keeping a caserole warm. When I received the gift, I remember thinking "Why did she give me this?" After years of storing it way up in the cabinet, I finally had an occasion to bring it down, open the box, and use it. Guess what was in the box? An unopened envelope with a wedding card to her and her husband!!! I felt like Sherlock Holmes. I had known all along it was a regift! Yes, the truth will find us out in the end! The worst part of the regift was that I felt so bad for the people who had given her this item-she had never even read their sweet wishes for their marriage.

  6. I'm always scared to re-gift ... so I re-cycle instead. Like that sweater in the first pic...oh my. Well ... I'd have taken my seam ripper to that bad boy. I can think of about 6 diff crafts that sweater can dress up. If it is perfume or food/candy...I have severe food allergies, so I am always upfront about no wine, champagne, citrus, nuts, etc.

  7. Great post & rules to abide by!! I don't think I could re gift I would feel awful handing it over knowing!! :)

  8. I have never re-gifted in my life. Imagine if both parties found out, I could never live with the shame.
    And why miss out on an opportunity to shop?

  9. I just love this post! I couldn't help but giggle aloud at the "artistic soul" portion!

  10. Years ago, we received a wedding gift from hubby's best friend and wife. I mean they had been friends since childhood. When I took it out of the box, I found a wedding card addressed to them. They had regifted! I never mentioned it to them, and I don't think I ever told my husband either. We are still friends to this day, even though I've been divorced for 25 years. I guess they just couldn't afford a gift at that time.

  11. Maybe my years spent as an antique dealer gives me a different perspective. For years I would buy beautiful things from people who no longer wanted them and sold them to people who longed for them. With my close friends we do not exchange gifts as what we really value is just trying to find time in each others company to sip tea (or wine) and laugh. In the past I have often received beautiful small gifts as thank yous in my business dealings and these I pop into my gift cupboard, not for myself, but for my daughter to chose from to give to her friends. I can not see why it would matter if you gave someone a lovely thing where it originated from.

  12. Oh wow, I knew you were my guru for a good reason. Well you covered everything there, that's for sure. I laughed at the line .. "and potentially lose your normal good sense". Way to go Sande!

  13. Ha Ha! That would be the day... but then again, you never know. I know a lady who gives away just about anything and everything when her spring cleaning bonnet is on.... and it's not even Christmas!. I admit I have occasionally re-gifted but verrrry carefully. Things I just disliked generally sat in a miserable heap. Many use ebay to recycle unwanted gifts - so for those seeking out bargains, this is a good time to go ebay shopping.
    Have a lovely New 10!

  14. You have made my day Sandy! I received the most hideous of all gifts in the world from my darling sister for my 50th birthday. It was so ugly, I was in stitches wondering what on earth she was thinking of in sending it to me and worse still - what was I going to do with it! My hubby suggested we play tricks on people with it and display it at Christmas time and give it a huge and adoring talk up to our un-suspecting guests - just to see their faces. We tried this, but soon fell in a heap laughing at the suprise and shock on their faces. I think we'll try it again with different guests year after year. When my dear sister asked if I liked her gift, all I could say is "it is the most incredible gift I have ever received" - I would never lie to anyone, so this response was thought out well in advance. Thanks for this posting Sandy and may you have a truly blessed 2010.

  15. Well said and perfect for the Emily Post line of books. I have passed along items I believe would be better enjoyed elsewhere with a disclosure notice. Like a Lenox holiday vase that perfectly matched a freinds service for 8. Otherwise off to the local charity they go. Our requests of please nothing we have to dust, store, or maintain has greatly reduced receipt of things we truly haven't the room for. However, gift certificates for the salon, garden center, a book of postage stamps or notice of a donation to the food bank or animal shelter are always welcomed. In truth we would rather the gift of sharing time with those we hold dear.

  16. Sande these are great. I just love reading them all though when I get gifts even when I love them lots of times I ask if someone else wants it. Then it feels almost like a double gift.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

  17. You know - I actually do a lot of regifting... But only when I get something and think, "you know who would LOVE this?" So often I appreciate, but don't personally care for gifts I get - and I'd much rather pass them on to someone who would really treasure them. I would never regift so that the original gift giver would know though - they don't need to know that they missed the mark. Of course, if the person who would love the regift won't be needing a present for another year, I typcially just give it to them. I don't have the patience to wait that long.

  18. Sande,
    You are a so on it with this post! Luckily, this year, I didn't receive any questionable gifts that I needed to 'do something with'. However, there have been many others in the past, and as I grow older and wiser, I've come to realize that re-gifting isn't the best solution (unless of course I'm the re-gifting recipient of a great designer bag or shoes!). For me, giving a gift is a pleasure, a gesture which I take great pride in searching for, wrapping, and presenting. I don't want to degrade this process with someone else's bad choices!
    Happy 2010 to you!

  19. Sande, I am still laughing at your "do not rules"! Your wording is hilarious!
    I have never "regifted" so to speak, but have been known to give things I bought for myself (with tags still on) and never wore nor used in an emergency situation. I would happily take that Hermes bag myself though! :)
    Happy New Year to you!!!

  20. I just learned sooo....much. i had heard about regifting but was totally unaware that it is was actually so popular.
    I am still quite old fashioned and could not re-give something given to me....out of guilt, I usually would keep the unwanted gifts in a closet and then donate it to Salvation Army.

  21. Thank you for the rules about regifting! I like to give handmade gifts and I know that it may not suit everyone. So, I loved your idea of a signature gift prewrapped and ready to roll! This would be very handy when invited to a party and not stressing about what to bring! ~Kristine

  22. I love your blog and really love your book list. Hope you'll post more good reads soon.

  23. My first blog comment. Sande, I love receiving your emails with wonderfully wrapped gift ideas, ideas for recycling gift boxes and colour / texture and embellishment combinations. As a recipient of a few of your gifts, I have the opportunity to reuse the boxes and materials for gifts to other friends. I always give you credit as the creator, I just copy. Thank you for the beauty you share with us all. Joanne


Your comments are such a lovely addition to my day. Thank you.


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